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Monday, 25 January 2016

Evaluating the Vulnerability of Toxic Release Inventory Facilities to Determine How They May Impact Marine Life on the Texas Coast

Sequoia Riley (Texas, US)

Committee Members: Dr. Samuel Brody, Dr. Wes Highfield, Dr. Antonietta Quigg

Abstract: Multiple research studies on the effects of flooding in Texas coastal communities--located along the Texas Coastal Bend (i.e. Gulf of Mexico)--have been done by professional sustainable development planners, environmental planners, and ecologists. For decades, these studies have been examining the negative environmental impacts caused by major flooding events due to the insufficient methods of environmental protection that have been implemented by state and local governments. Although these research studies have assisted planners and ecologists to evaluate and create better alternative methods to protect the environmental components from flooding on land, no research has been conducted to investigate how floods also effect the marine environment (i.e. pelagic ecosystem) when they recede back out into the ocean after being retained within the Texas coastal communities for a certain period of time. It has been acknowledged that as the flood water within the Texas coastal communities recedes back into the pelagic ecosystem, it carries with it toxic chemicals from various toxic waste facilities. At this current time, vulnerability of Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) facilities were calculated and analyzed from October 2013-May 2015 based on their proximity to the four types of flood vulnerable areas focused for this study (100-year floodplain hazard areas, 500-year floodplain hazard areas, coastal flood risk zones, and barrier island territories). It was hypothesized that the results from the analysis will show that a high percentage of the toxic waste facilities are located in highly and moderately vulnerable coastal flood risk zones and flood hazard zones. Surprisingly, the highest percentage of TRI facilities were found outside flood hazard zones and barrier island territories recognized as highly and moderately vulnerable areas. Whereas, there was a high percentage of TRI facilities located in four of the five coastal flood risk zones. This study is a starting point in determining the various types of toxic chemicals and hazardous wastes being released into the marine environment locally speaking. For future research, determining the various types of toxic chemicals and hazardous wastes being released from TRI facilities (globally, nationally, and locally) need to be taken into consideration. This also includes examining the negative impacts in the marine environment caused by the release of toxic chemicals and hazardous waste manufactured by TRI facilities (globally, nationally, and locally).

This blog post has been written by Sequoia Riley who recently graduated from Texas A&M University with a Master's in Marine Resource Management and who obtained her Bachelor's in Marine Science with a minor in Applied Mathematics from Coastal Carolina University.

Connect with her on LinkedIn
Or contact her directly at: sriley3773@gmail.com

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